Friday, August 2, 2013

Week 2: Service Challenges

“One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do, even when you don’t feel like doing it.”

FTK, an acronym that means “for the kids” is an idea that is taken very, very seriously at Victory Junction. Everything we do is for the kids. Anything else is secondary and comes after the kids have been taken care of. Of course, this is much easier said than done. With camper care occurring 24/7, it definitely gets exhausting to constantly be on duty, but it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. When I worked at a camp last summer, I definitely was tired at the end of the day. However, this summer has forced me to extend myself to such a higher level of mental and physical commitment, and it is stretching me in a whole new way.

A major challenge that goes with the quote above occurs in the middle of the night when a camper comes knocking on the counselor side of the cabin. Even if it is 2 am, it is our job to get up and check and make sure that the camper is okay. In the middle of the day, this would not be a big deal at all and any of us would be excited to get up and check on them. However, in the middle of the night when our brains are asleep and we aren’t thinking normally, it certainly is a challenge. I can think of one night in particular where a camper woke me up at 2:30, 3, 3:30, 5, and 6 am. I certainly did not feel like getting out of bed, and even less once I knew the work involved in getting the child back in bed, but I also knew that I was there to show her love and to give her what she needed. So, I put on the best smile and used the best attitude I could, and showed her how important she is to me.

Another challenge that comes with this opportunity is to ignore the labels that each child is given. With a camp for children with chronic and terminal illnesses, you already have assigned titles that are unfair and make it seem difficult from the get go. You understand that there will be more rewards than you could imagine, but you are afraid of the challenges and feel like you might not be able to handle the emotional connections that occur. However, while those are true feelings, it is not fair to the kids. These are normal children who want to be treated just like everyone else; they just have extra medical precautions that keep them from regular camps. When we receive their hot sheets at the beginning of the week, outlining their medical conditions and any notes the parent or child wants us to know, we make judgments and classifications about what the child will be like. Those papers do not give us a complete picture of the beautiful child that will show up at the gates ready to have the time of their lives. I think it is incredibly challenging to remember that just because two kids have the same label doesn’t mean they have anything else in common, and it is our job to figure out how each one works and how to best relate to them to give them the best week they could imagine.

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